Xerox PARC Engineers and DARPA Develop Self-Destructing Chip

In the Mission: Impossible movies, Tom Cruise typically receives his mission orders through a device that promises to self-destruct once itEUs finished playing. A new chip co-developed by Xerox and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) promises to do something similar, a development that could significantly improve device security.

The new chip (Image: DARPA) will smash itself on command, making it possible to store an encryption key on it without fear it will fall into the wrong hands. The chip is built on Gorilla Glass, which researchers were able to stress by applying heat until it broke into tiny pieces, rendering any data on the chip unrecoverable.

This Chip Will Self-Destruct in Five Seconds

DARPA and XeroxEUs Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) debuted the new technology at DARPAEUs Wait, What? forum on future technologies in St. Louis last week. DARPA is interested in the technology for its applications in military devices deployed in battlefields, allowing military personnel to disable chips to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.

The self-destructing chip was designed as part of DARPAEUs initiative to help develop electronic systems capable of being destroyed in a controlled, triggerable manner as part of the agencyEUs Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) initiative.

EUThe commercial off-the-shelf, or COTS, electronics made for everyday purchases are durable and last nearly forever,EU Alicia Jackson, DARPA program manager, said when the VAPR initiative was first announced two years ago. EUDARPA is looking for a way to make electronics that last precisely as long as they are needed. The breakdown of such devices could be triggered by a signal sent from command or any number of possible environmental conditions, such as temperature.EU

Xerox, on the other hand, is interested in developing the technology for commercial purposes, particularly for devices aimed at high-security applications. The chip is designed...

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